After forcing my way through A Dance of Cloaks, I wanted to pick up something quick and good. My sister has a pile of “books she thinks I need to read” growing in my room, so I thought I would start to whittle it down. I decided a nice start would be Takayuki Ishii’s One Thousand Paper Cranes.
One Thousand Paper Cranes is the non-fiction story of Sadako Sasaki, a Japanese girl who was two years old at the time of the atomic bombing in Hiroshima, Japan during World War II. This book tells the story of how Sadako grew to be a young girl, but eventually developed lymphoma from the radiation and died. During her sickness, she believed that if she folded a thousand origami paper cranes, she would be able to make a wish and survive her illness. Although she managed to complete her goal, she was unable to survive. She had been such an inspiring and happy young girl that her family and former schoolmates worked to raise funds to create the Hiroshima Peace Memorial that was sculpted in her likeness, and inspired the creation of a Children’s Peace Statue in Los Alamos, New Mexico.
This book was a very quick read (it took me less than an hour), but still delivered a lasting impression. The simplistic, almost childlike, writing only lends itself to conveying the tragedy put forth in the story. You don’t get bogged down in the history – the few vivid details you get about Sadako’s progressing illness are enough to put the horror of historic events into sharp perspective. The story manages to convey the struggles that come in the aftermath of war, without invoking a lecturing or condemning tone. Simply relaying facts in a story-like format is enough to involve the reader in the realities of post-WWII Japan. Moving, haunting, and inspiring, One Thousand Paper Cranes is a book everyone should read.